Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Perils of Procrastination

Many writers operate under the philosophy, why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? Yes, they have dreams but they are not consistently working toward achieving that dream. Year pass and they continue wanting to get their book published yet it still has not happened.

I met one of these writers at the Philadelphia conference. I’m going to use the name Bob but his name was not Bob because I don’t want to embarrass him but simply use him as an example. As we talked about his book, Bob rummaged through his papers and showed me a proposal from the year before which a faculty member had written and given specific recommendations for improvements and changes. In the weeks and months between last year’s conference and the current one, Bob had not reviewed the revisions and made the improvements. Instead he tucked it into a file which he brought to the next conference. He was mired in a procrastination cycle. I’m certain from time to time Bob wonders why he is not making progress on his dreams about a book—yet he is not taking action to learn his craft, improve his writing and continue moving forward.

Also at the conference, I was talking with a faculty member and made a suggestion for a possible project. This editor agreed it was a good idea then said, “I have this problem with procrastination. It will take me a while to get to it.” At least he was acknowledging his challenge and the validity or merit of my idea for him. At the same time, with his words, he was putting off taking any action on the idea until a later date.

I understand the challenge of procrastination. My writing and publishing life is crammed with activities—much more than is humanly possible to accomplish. Yet I also know the merits of goal setting and continually moving forward to accomplish a concrete goal.

Over three years ago, I took an online course from Jimmy D. Brown called Memberaire. The program is designed for anyone to learn how to create their own online course and launch it in a short amount of time.

Enthused about what I was learning from Jimmy each week, I followed the lessons and completed the assignments. I decided not to launch my course right away but to work on the creative aspects with a different schedule. Because of the volume of other deadlines and projects, I wanted to have more of the course in place and written than just a lesson or two as Jimmy suggested. I loved the course material and read it faithfully. The tyranny of the urgent forced me to slack off on completing the weekly assignments yet I stuck with his course.

It ran for a full year. As each lesson arrived in my mailbox, I faithfully printed each one. I burned through several reams of paper with these weekly assignments.

At the end of last year or two years after completing Jimmy’s course, I was reviewing some of my future projects. I chastised myself for not completing and launching my own course. I clearly made a decision to stop procrastination and take action. I began to speak daily time on creating and launching my own course. Ultimately several months ago I launched my Write A Book Proposal course and have students taking the course around the world.

My creation of the course was not without glitches and learning many lessons. For example, my course is a three month course which involves something called recurring billing. That means after 30 days, my shopping cart has to bill for the next 30 days. Then after 30 more days, the shopping cart has to bill for the final month. Because the course is available 24/7 students begin and reach that 30 day point at different times. Ideally you set up the controls so it is handled automatically. For the first batch of students I handled that billing by hand but now it is all automatic. My persistence and continual effort has paid off. I’ve received glowing comments about my teaching in the course from different students.

While in Philadelphia, I met one of my students who came to the conference from Sydney, Australia. She got on an airplane and came 17 hours to reach the U.S. then seven more hours to reach Philly. I was honored and amazed with such passion and effort to come to a conference—and this student’s enthusiasm for my Write A Book Proposal course.

I’m happy to report that I took action on my procrastination. You can do the same with your writing. What projects or dreams are you putting off to “another day?” Make a decision to take action and reach for your goals. It will take planning and consistent action but you can definitely get there. You don’t have to be stuck in the past. The future is yours if you reach for it.

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2 Comment:

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Marimberta Left a note...

Sat next to you at Oregon Christian Writers Conference and the subject was blog procrastination. I can identify with this problem blogs and novels as well. Easy to think you will bang out the changes, but you get home and realize all the problems in your work and it can overwhelm. This year I'm putting together a rewrite plan - I've already gotten input from my writing group. I will get this novel to asking agent by the end of the year! Thanks for your encouragement.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Jean Davis Left a note...

Thanks, Terry, for the constant encouragement and excellent help you offer writers. I hope the next writers' conference I attend, I won't have to change my name to "Bob." It's been almost three weeks since the Greater Philadelphia Writers' Conference ended, and I'm still sitting on a novel and an article to submit. What a perfect day to get with it. Thanks for the workshops you offered in Philly. I appreciate the workshop I was able to attend and am glad Marlene makes all workshops available on CD.


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